Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lugar and Political Patience

I caught Fred Barnes on FoxNews being the only commentator to point out just how wrong Lugar is. I saw and read Lugar's speech earlier and was appalled at its complete lack of historical understanding of insurgencies. He calls for a plan B when Plan A hasn't even gotten a chance to begin.

Barnes has a decent basic analysis:
Lugar makes two major mistakes in his speech. The first is obvious: the surge hasn't had a chance to work. The troop buildup was just completed this month and the strategy is only now being fully implemented. And Petraeus won't report on the progress of the new strategy until sometime in September. Yet Lugar says it won't succeed because of "political fragmentation" in Iraq, "the fatigue of our military," and constraints imposed the "political process" back home in Washington. Maybe he's right, but we won't know that for months.

His second and more important mistake is misunderstanding the effect an American pullback in favor of a diplomatic offensive would have. Lugar insisted the new approach would help achieve America's "four primary objectives" in Iraq. These are: preventing the creation of a terrorist haven, curbing sectarian violence, preventing Iranian dominance of the region, and "limiting the loss of U.S. credibility in the region." These are worthy goals. The problem is his Plan B would not achieve them--quite the opposite.

It's the surge that's designed with these four goals in mind. Abandoning the surge strategy would cause the opposite of what Lugar wants. It would leave al Qaeda and Baathist diehards with a staging area, either inside or near Baghdad, for their attacks. It would mean sectarian violence in Baghdad and elsewhere would increase, particularly because Iranian agents would be free to provoke it. Iran's role in Iraq would grow. As for American credibility, Lugar's plan would have the same impact on it that the pullout from Somalia had in 1993 and the retreat from Lebanon a decade earlier. Our credibility would plummet. Al Qaeda would gloat and declare victory.

Even worse:
The heart of his Plan B is diplomacy. "A diplomatic offensive is likely to be easier in the context of a tactical drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq," he said. "A drawdown would increase the chances of stimulating greater economic and diplomatic assistance for Iraq from multilateral organizations and European allies, who have sought to limit their association with an unpopular war." But would these groups and "allies" really want to jump in as American troops are standing down and the prospects for chaos, especially in Baghdad, are increasing? I don't think so. And do Syria and Iran really have a constructive role to play? So far, what we've seen from them is a consistent strategy of promoting disruption and violence and instability in Iraq.
Again, like most of the nervous Nellies in politics they miss the point that political solutions require security. Those politicians in Iraq who must come to the table and create solutions can't just sell their constituency down the river. They know that the situation is unbalanced. If the US can accommodate a good level of security, then the politicians will be able to move ahead because they will know and feel that they aren't putting their constituents at risk.

Security must come first. The Iraq army is slowly standing up, and they are a key part of the security role. But the US has the lead and any withdrawal will ensure that security will back slide.

Take a good look at any of the successful counter-insurgencies in history and my point is easily proven.

Sadly, this smells more of politics than of correct solutions.
“Unless we recalibrate our strategy in Iraq to fit our domestic political conditions and the broader needs of U.S. national security, we risk foreign policy failures that could greatly diminish our influence in the region and the world,” said Lugar.
This is strikingly wrong. You don't alter your tactics in a war to meet political conditions at home, you alter your political conditions to face the war. Unfortunately, the later is highly improbably and the former is a recipe for failure.

No comments: